My View II: Death-In-Custody Incident Puts Us to Another Test

police-lights-4

Interestingly enough, barely five hours after Assistant Police Chief Darren Pytel was participating in the Vanguard and Civenergy forum on Wednesday night, a new challenge emerged for the Davis Police Department.

Instead of in the heart of downtown, this death occurred at La Quinta Inn & Suites, off of Richards Blvd. in South Davis. A man, now identified as 54-year-old David Shurtz, Jr. of Sacramento, died as police officers were attempting to apprehend him.

If initial reports turn out to be accurate, that Mr. Shurtz suggested that he had a gun and another occupant in his La Quinta hotel room, perhaps investigations will show that the Davis Police acted appropriately.

In addition to multiple agencies performing this investigation, Davis has its own Police Auditor, Bob Aaronson, who undoubtedly will prove vital in ensuring that investigations are conducted properly and thoroughly.

As Darren Pytel told the Vanguard, it is believed this is the first in-custody death involving the Davis Police Department.

This event figures to put the police and this community to another test. In the current climate, in-custody deaths are heavily scrutinized. I will be honest, upon learning about the death, my first question regarded the man’s race: white.

Given the long debate that we have had as a nation, it was a reasonable question. One of our readers made the comment that they were thankful the victim was white. In the backdrop of #blacklivematter, I think important questions about police tactics and use of force have been deleted from the national discussion.

Those who believe that race played no role in the deaths of people ranging from Michael Brown to Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Walter Scott and Freddie Gray, to just name a few, are being naïve. The very notion of unconscious bias suggests that the same actions by a black person, usually a black male, are interpreted differently than those by a white person. What may otherwise seem benign becomes filtered through a completely different lens and reinterpreted at a subconscious level by the brain.

However, while I believe the issue of race and Black Lives Matter (which is still unfortunately misunderstood by many) is a vitally important conversation, too much of police tactics and use of force have gotten lost in the mix.

The police made it a point to note in their release, “Several of the officers are trained in crisis intervention and negotiations – all attempts at de-escalating the situation and to establish reasonable communication failed.”

A year ago, Lt. Tom Waltz talked to the Vanguard, saying that there was a $2.1 million grant for Turning Point Community Programs to provide community-based crisis response services to Yolo County residents coming into contact with law enforcement while experiencing a psychiatric crisis for the period July 1, 2014 through June 30, 2017.

Would such a program have helped a situation like this?

Some people wondered if the police had a better option, to wait out the individual. However, the possibility of a gun and another person present likely ruled out that approach. We know that, in general, the Davis Police have moved away from dynamic entries such as these and toward a more methodical approach.

Following this past spring’s murder-suicide, Darren Pytel told the Vanguard he believes that time is on the side of the police and the longer they can wait, the more likely they can deescalate the situation. They operate in a “slow kind of deliberate way.”

A dynamic entry would end the potential standoff very quickly but, at the same time, greatly increase the chance of a confrontation and therefore the opportunity that the subject could provoke a confrontation that would force the police to kill him. That is what they wanted to avoid.

But in a situation like this one, they probably cannot avoid making a dynamic entry.

We still do not know exactly why the man died, despite having medical personnel on hand to administer immediate aid once they had the man under control.

On a more local level, it is interesting the development of events. Last fall we had a long debate over the need for an MRAP (mine-resistant ambush protected vehicle). This spring we had a situation where the police actually used not one but two MRAPs when dealing with what turned out to be a murder-suicide.

Four weeks ago, we had a stabbing murder in downtown Davis, which has turned the month into a discussion of the Davis Downtown. On Tuesday, the city council approved an exemption for Blondies, but probably more importantly, they laid out critical changes for the downtown scene – including wanding, enhanced security, and changes to how alcohol is served.

No sooner do we move forward on these reforms aimed at the downtown, but the type of incident that seems more typical for Davis emerges.

At the risk of speculation, the death of Mr. Shurtz seems more in line with what happened back in March with Joseph Hein. A distraught individual, not in the downtown core, ends up in a fatality. While this event was not a murder – it does illustrate that as much attention as we focused on the downtown core and the possible infusion of gangs into Davis, issues like mental health and distraught individuals still appear the more likely threat to this community.

I have little doubt that the police will internally review their actions in hopes of figuring out what went wrong and how to better manage a situation such as this in the future. It may be that there was no way around this conclusion – and if that’s the case, we need to know that too.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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60 Comments

  1. Alan Miller

    I will be honest, upon learning about the death, my first question regarded the man’s race: white.

    Strange, that thought never crossed my mind.  My only thought was about the persons actions:  crazy.

    Given the long debate that we have had as a nation, it was a reasonable question.

    Given one’s obsession with race issues, I guess it was an inevitable question.

    One of our readers made the comment that they were thankful the victim was white . . . I think important questions about police tactics and use of force have been deleted from the national discussion.

    And, ironically, when one of your readers made a comment yesterday about this being painted as a race issue, they were deleted from the Vanguard discussion.

    And I quote:  “Three posts have been deleted. Any further attempts to turn this into a racial discussion will be removed.” By that same standard, your editor should remove the entirety of today’s article!  (see above)

    In the back drop of BlackLiveMatter

    Is that the alien goo that killed Denise Crosby? ( . . . and . . . oh my God! She was *white*, and the goo was *black* — it was a racial issue!)

    1. Topcat

      By that same standard, your editor should remove the entirety of today’s article!

      Yes, why try to bring racism into a discussion of an incident where it does not seem to play a part?

    2. David Greenwald

      By that same standard, your editor should remove the entirety of today’s article!”

      22 paragraphs in today’s column, four dealt with race   Mostly as a segue to the main topic  yet those are the four you exclusively focused on

       

       

        1. hpierce

          So, you felt the four paragraphs today were needed to put things in context.  Yet yesterday, 3 comments were deleted apparently because they were “out of context“.  Yet all were about the ‘R- ‘ subject…  Well, it’s your blog and you can do what you want to.  No need to be consistent.

  2. Barack Palin

    Yesterday I wrote:

    Thankfully he was white.

    My comment was deleted and I was told not to turn it into a racial discussion.  The point I was somewhat sarcastically trying to make is we all pretty much all know where this would’ve gone if the deceased had been black.  I can hear it now, the police would’ve shown more constraint if the victim had been white, another case of a black man dying at the hands of police, the cops are racists whether they know it or not because of implicit bias, blah, blah, blah……..

     

    1. David Greenwald

      And the point I thought needed to be made today was that the issues involving the police and use of force are not all ones that center around differential treatment and some center around the use of force itself and police tactics. Right now this looks clean, but we’ll see what comes out of the investigation and coroner’s report.

      1. Barack Palin

        A white man died in police custody, it wasn’t about race.  If it had been a black man it also wouldn’t have been about race.  Maybe David you can learn a lesson from that.

        1. David Greenwald

          How do you know it wouldn’t have been about race? How do you know he wouldn’t have been treated differently? As I pointed out however, there are issues about the treatment of mentally ill people and the use of force in general that supercede the issue of race. Just because race isn’t a factor here, doesn’t mean it’s never a factor and it doesn’t mean there aren’t other factors that come into place in incidents that are in part about race.

        2. Barack Palin

          The point is we’re going on what actually happened, not what could’ve happened if the victim was black.  For Godsakes, the man died, how much better treatment did he get because he was white?  Taking what actually happened imo the whole narrative would be entirely different today if the victim had been black.

          1. David Greenwald

            The reason I raised the issue is that I think there are other factors of policing that have gotten lost in what I consider the justified focus on race in the national incidents. And then I moved on to discuss those – mental health treatment, dynamic entries, use of force. That was the bulk of my commentary.

        3. hpierce

          Yes, David perhaps you’re right… perhaps if it was a ‘person of color’, the police might have been so afraid to intervene, for fear of community reaction, they could have let his rant run its course, become exhausted, and be taken in without incident.  Treated differently.  Oh, wait, that might mean race DID play a factor.

          1. David Greenwald

            As I told BP, I raised the issue because I think there are other factors of policing that have gotten lost. I don’t know that there would or would not have been different treatment based on race.

  3. Biddlin

    Sorry David, but here is where I call “Merde de’ boeuf” The absolutely arbitrary moderation on The Vanguard has become laughable. BP and I had the common term for prostitute , in context of a suffix to “media”(let’s see if “prostitute” makes it) deleted,only to see it in the text of an article the following day, unaltered or abridged in any fashion. (almost like adults were familiar and comfortable with the word.) Determinations of what constitute off-topic and personal attacks are equally subjective and fickle, rendering the report button a sarcastic joke.  JMHO

    ;>)/

    1. David Greenwald

      Ok. I’m happy to discuss moderation issues but not on a public venue. Email me if you have a legitimate concern you want me to raise with the editorial board.

  4. South of Davis

    I’ve been gone for a while (and I’m sure no one has missed me), but today I had a laugh when I read the site today thinking “the Vanguard is about to jump the shark”…

    I thought I would post one last time in the hope of letting David know that in addition to Rich Rifkin and myself leaving most other people I know never look at the Vanguard any more since it had become a joke of race baiting left wing insanity.

    No one wants to go to a site where people like Frankly (with his GOP/Fox News talking points) debates Medwoman (with her DNC/MSNBC talking points) and Don deleting  anything Frankly (or anyone else) posts that actually makes the left wing/Vanguard position look bad…

  5. Frankly

    My post was one of three deleted and the only connection to the moderator “rules” were on line in response to BP , where I wrote “I was thinking the same thing”.

    Then I went on to ask if the guy was tazered.

    Also, might he have been pepper-sprayed?   I doubt this since it seems that the scuffle was in tight quarters and the pepper spray would have impacted the officers.

    I have a suggestion that the cops may have a size bias.  That in fact they may become more aggressive noting the size of the suspect.  That would be a rational and logical thing… and probably a biological fight or flight reaction.  And when six of them are being tossed around by a large suspect, it would seem justified.

  6. Anon

    Those who believe that race played no role in the deaths of people ranging from Michael Brown to Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Walter Scott and Freddie Gray, to just name a few, are being naïve. …

    The Freddie Gray incident had nothing to do with race.  Half the 6 officers involved and charged in that incident were BLACK!  See: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3064842/Three-officers-charged-Freddie-Gray-death-black-family-source-says-shows-not-race.html

    However, while I believe the issue of race and Black Lives Matter (which is still unfortunately misunderstood by many) is a vitally important conversation, too much of police tactics and use of force have gotten lost in the mix.”

    The excessive force issue gets lost BECAUSE THE VANGUARD KEEPS INTERJECTING RACE INTO SITUATIONS THAT HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RACE BUT MAY HAVE SOMETHING TO DO WITH EXCESSIVE FORCE.

    1. Alan Miller

      THE VANGUARD KEEPS INTERJECTING RACE INTO SITUATIONS THAT HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RACE BUT MAY HAVE SOMETHING TO DO WITH _______________.

       

      Yup.  Fill in the blank.

  7. Frankly

     

    I thought I would post one last time in the hope of letting David know that in addition to Rich Rifkin and myself leaving most other people I know never look at the Vanguard any more since it had become a joke of race baiting left wing insanity.

    No one wants to go to a site where people like Frankly (with his GOP/Fox News talking points) debates Medwoman (with her DNC/MSNBC talking points) and Don deleting  anything Frankly (or anyone else) posts that actually makes the left wing/Vanguard position look bad…

    SOD, this reminds me.  I was thinking that David should write a piece about the Vanguards vision for what type of blog it wants to be when it grows up.  What are the key topics that interest him as a journalist or opinion piece writer.  Then he should solicit input from all for points about what would keep them coming back.

    There are a lot of articles on race and cops.  And if you remember this topic was the driving force behind the creation of the VG.  It is and has been David’s crusade… and probably will be his crusade for the rest of his life.  And of course national events and the national political narrative has been focused on race and cops… so there is that too.

    Now I know some people dislike that topic.  Interesting to me, that topic seems to attract the most posts, but from a smaller group of posters.

    The challenge is that there is not really a sensitive way to debate that topic. It just makes some people feel so uncomfortable that they run away or burn with anger just because people are talking about it.   But it is exactly this, IMO, that has led to such entrenched divisiveness on the subject of race and contributes to racial strife.  I think we NEED to talk about it.  I had my place of business threatened at one point for talking about it.  One side of the debate benefits from the PC rules that kill debate.  It has caused an unhealthy expectation that everyone just accept the narrative.  But instead it just drives people underground and with silent resentment and a goal to disassociate with people holding the other view.  That is not healthy for a community.

    Those on both sides are absolutely convinced the other side is wrong.  My perspective on this is that I am not trying to change David’s or Tia’s or Bidlin’s  mind, but I am debating them so that others that are still in questioning mode can make up their own minds.  I am also hoping that we beat back the PC police from demonizing, threatening and denigrating any and all that would dare to challenge the status quo political-media narrative of race and racism.

    But that won’t work if it is turning people away from the VG.

    I am working on reducing the number of times per week I use the word “liberal”.  Maybe that will help!

    One last point… on the deleting of posts.

    Think fairness and rules.   Some people seem wired to except more rules to give a greater sense of control that derives a greater sense of fairness.  Other people seem wired to see unfairness in the attempts to control by adding more rules and power to enforce them.  Lastly, other people seem to waffle between both considerations (and frankly, not make sense much of the time).

    But, I think it is pretty universal that a deleted post is a BIG DEAL to most people.  It feels very unfair.  It feels like a slap with no ability for recourse.   No due process.  Just someone making themselves law maker, law enforcer, judge, jury and executioner… and just taking arbitrary action.

    I have made recommendations that the moderator not delete posts, but to make suggestions to keep the conversation on track.  At least provide a warning.  And take some license to edit out anything truly offensive.  I think he has done a pretty good job at that over the last several months.  It is not an easy job, and I think he has done it as well as anyone could.

    But, because I think having posts deleted will cause people to leave the VG and not come back, the only posts that should be deleted are those that are truly offensive.

    In the circumstance where the VG wants to keep the comments more focused, there should be a note at the end of the article.  For example, respectful tributes to someone that has passed on.

    But free-flowing commentary is what blogging is all about.  The VG should be careful trying to control the conversation too much, or else it will lose more posters.

    1. Alan Miller

      we NEED to talk about it . . . ne side of the debate benefits from the PC rules that kill debate.  It has caused an unhealthy expectation that everyone just accept the narrative.  But instead it just drives people underground . . . that is not healthy for a community.  Those on both sides are absolutely convinced the other side is wrong.

      I agree with this except for the last sentence.  Except for the extremists I don’t think most people are really that far apart, they just jump to the side that is closest to theirs in the comments forum.

      I object to the take on racism espoused in the VG because I believe it divides.  I absolutely know that blacks (and other groups), on average, suffer from having the starting line a mile back.  Absolutely, on average, the bias is a greater degree of suspicion toward blacks and other groups.  Absolutely white people, on average, have greater access and resources.  And all this just plain sucks, and just plain IS.

      But!  It has nothing to do with individuals.  There are great people from all races and horrible people from all races and racist people from all races.  When I was young, I believed in affirmative action — in THEORY I still do, at least for a limited time until a sunset date, to give a head start to a group that, as a whole, got a major screwing.  However, when I had to implement a program for a company seeking bids for “BLANK owned businesses”, I saw the true nature of affirmative action — it’s a F—ing scam, used by the connected, and often fraudulent even in who owns the business.  And I see this mirrored in other government attempts to so-called “equalize the playing field”.

      I usually agree that race MAY be a factor in most of the articles brought up here in the Vanguard.  What turns me off immediately is the ASSUMPTION race it is factor merely because the victim is black or another group.

      However, after reading today’s magic three paragraphs and the justification of those paragraphs, it is abundantly clear there are those who see the world through race colored glasses.  I will never understand the reason to assume first.

        1. Barack Palin

          I three on Alan’s post.  I get so tired of race trying to be slammed into every situation were a minority is involved.  Give it up Vanguard, as you can see from the posts that  many of your readers are tiring of of the incessant race baiting.

        2. Tia Will

          And all this just plain sucks, and just plain IS.”

          But!  It has nothing to do with individuals.” 

          “There are great people from all races and horrible people from all races and racist people from all races.”

          I agree completely with the first and third assertions. And could not disagree more with the second. I would assert that it has everything to do with individuals. Our entire society is based on the cumulative beliefs and behaviors of individuals. Racism, or the lack there of, regardless of the color of the skin of the individuals involved is entirely about individual beliefs and how those beliefs manifest through actions.

          Alan may not have intended his statement to mean this, but I believe that too often, stating that something “just plain IS” is used as an excuse to then conclude that we as individual people cannot do anything about it. It is this conclusion with which I take exception. I believe that it is incumbent upon each of us to “do what we can” to acknowledge our part, and make what ever change we can to improve both our own condition, but also those of others.

           

           

      1. Frankly

        I agree with most of this except I think Affirmative Action – while well-intentioned – establishes the soft bigotry of low expectations.

        I was talking to someone today about human struggle… mostly the benefits… the fact that young people are drawn to it.

        I think where we screw up is leading with the mindset that struggle is bad and the path must be softenend.  Instead, I think we need to increase the opportunity for struggle that is positive.

        Improve education and career opportunities that allow people to lift theselves up.

        Affirmative action is a crutch that causes people to become dependent on it.  And like most goverment policies that mandate group preference, it is often corrupted.

        1. Alan Miller

          I agree about the actual implementation.  In THEORY, it would have been good to have had affirmative action for one generation from about 1965 – 1985 to make up for our country, as a whole, F-ing over black people, as a whole, for long, to essentially move the starting line from a mile back to a half-mile back, and then sunset the program.  But of course like most all government programs of the type, they are corrupted by those who see how to suck the money out of them, and then they never actually sunset because the money that is sucked out is used to lobby to continue the program so those sucking the money can continue to suck.  And, those who really need such a head start rarely are the ones who actually benefit.  Arrg!

      2. hpierce

        “it is abundantly clear there are those who see the world through race colored glasses.”  True.  It will be interesting to see if Stone’s attackers are caught, whether “hate crime” will be added to their charges.  Am doubting it.  Also interesting, that ‘gang on gang’ or ‘gang on bystander’ crimes are not charged as “hate crimes”.  Can anyone give a cogent answer about whether “hate crimes” and “gang crimes” are different, either in charges or consequences?  

        Nuance… isn’t any murder a violation of “civil rights”?

  8. Anon

    SOD: “I thought I would post one last time in the hope of letting David know that in addition to Rich Rifkin and myself leaving most other people I know never look at the Vanguard any more since it had become a joke of race baiting left wing insanity.”

    Glad you expressed your discontent.  I too left the Vanguard for a while, but for different reasons.  I think the Vanguard is doing a better job of separating news from opinion, but needs to strive to do better.  I would agree that the “issue of race” is all too often interjected where it absolutely does not belong – very exasperating.  And I would also agree it is extremely left biased/unobjective in its reporting of certain issues.

    It is unfortunate the number of posters has diminished dramatically.  We are getting a very skewed view, that I do not think is in any way a representation of the majority of the community.  In my view that is sometimes due to over-coverage of topics.  The same issue is hashed and rehashed over and over again in article after article, until commenters just tune out.  The abundance of court coverage I skip, because it is 1) so left slanted; 2) shows a certain frustrating ignorance of how the legal process works.  I tend to tune more into local political issues, and skip the rest.  But that is personal to me.  I know a number of my friends have expressed the same view of SOD – they just gave up reading the Vanguard.

    I do believe the Vanguard serves a good purpose, in that it gives more complete coverage of some local political issues we don’t necessarily get from the Davis Enterprise, which I deeply appreciate.  And the back and forth blogging at times can be quite interesting/invigorating/stimulating/eyeopening.  Doing a blog like this is no easy task.  You cannot please everyone.  But there is always room for improvement, so feedback from former commenters should be quite helpful.

    1. Topcat

      I would agree that the “issue of race” is all too often interjected where it absolutely does not belong – very exasperating.

      Yes, unfortunately the race issue is blown way out of proportion and is very one sided.

  9. PhilColeman

    Numerous times the point has been raised that a candid discussion of race in our society must be raised. Implicit with this remark is that discussion shall be in forum like this.

    A race topic debate in a forum like this certainly does generates a substantial number of responses. Presumably, that’s good, from a marketing and member participation point of view.

    Permit me to add two more irons in the fire: Have you noticed we always finish in the same level of discontent and when we started? In other words, the exercise has much heat, and no light. It’s a big circle that ends nowhere.

    Second, the custody death happened to a white person, and people said that’s one issue that can be ignored in picking apart this incident. Now, those of you who made this comment, take a real good look at yourself. Are you racial profiling with this remark? Supposing the arresting officers were non-white? Would that change things, and why did you not even consider that possibility?

     

    1. Tia Will

      Phil

      Have you noticed we always finish in the same level of discontent and when we started? In other words, the exercise has much heat, and no light. It’s a big circle that ends nowhere.”

      This is only true if your end point is contentment or agreement amongst the posters. However, I agree with a point that Frankly recently made. When I write, my goal is not to change his mind or the minds of others who are already set in their position regardless of their political leanings. My intent is to make my position clear to those who may be undecided and to present a distinctly different ( and often minority view) for those who are just beginning to consider an issue. One small example. I was recently told by an acquaintance that my articles on the Planned Parenthood controversy had changed the mind of a friend of hers. This is why I write. Not necessarily to win points ( although that can be fun too) but to present a point of view that  may not have yet been considered.

    2. Anon

      I do try and change minds with reasoning and logic – and sometimes my efforts are successful and sometimes not.  Personally, I try and keep an open mind on issues, and from time to time have changed my views because of things that were pointed out to me, or by reason of additional information I became privy to, or because I researched the issue further. I am almost never entrenched in any particular mindset, and make every effort to put myself in the other person’s shoes to understand their viewpoint.  So often there is no one “right” way to look at an issue.  Keeping an open mind is difficult to do, because we all have our personal biases – but it can be very eyeopening and develop better self-awareness. Intolerance of other viewpoints narrows one’s life.

  10. hpierce

    Think we’re nearly at this point, but am thinking we need to see autopsy reports, full investigation reports before any of us, including me, opine much any more.

    Unless, of course, we’re ‘messing’ with each other, instead of the topic.

  11. Robin W.

    I am very disappointed in the Vanguard’s commentary on this incident and in the comments. Is everyone assuming that an in-custody death of a mentally ill person is justified if the cops are scared?

    While this may be the first in-custody death in such circumstances in Davis, there have been numerous others in the local area in the past few years. To me, this is incredibly frightening. It demonstrates a complete failure of appropriate training and policies. And it demonstrates prioritizing by the police that is completely upside down, notably the same prioritizing we saw in the murder-suicide in the spring when the cops didn’t enter the building or even send in a SWAT team for many hours, even though there could reasonably have been a person bleeding to death in the house.

    These days, it seems that the concept of public service and protecting the people is foreign to the police everywhere, but especially in small towns, and that the number #1 concern of the police is protecting the police. So why do have them?

    The police should have entered the murder-suicide house immediately in the spring to see if someone was bleeding to death.  We give them weapons and train them in the use of the weapons do that they can enter dangerous situations to help people, not so they can stand outside until all chance of danger has passed.

    But in the motel incident the other night, there were clear indications of an out-of-control person with mental problems. The police should not have entered until after they had trained psychiatric personnel make an attempt to communicate with and talk-down the obviously disturbed man.  Of course a person who was already flipping out was going to flip out further when intimidated by six police officers with weapons. And of course the police would then flip out with fear and their “need” to control and subdue the poor guy who was flipping out. What on earth were the police thinking?

    As as far as I am concerned, the police are always at fault for an in-custody death (unless it was a suicide) or for a person bleeding to death inside a house when the cops are outside protecting their own asses and no one else. They are responsible if they are present. Or why do we even bother having a police force?

    1. David Greenwald

      “Is everyone assuming that an in-custody death of a mentally ill person is justified if the cops are scared?”

      I certainly made no such contention. But I would like to see more information about how he died before weighing in further.

    2. Anon

      Robin W.: “Is everyone assuming that an in-custody death of a mentally ill person is justified if the cops are scared?

      Are you assuming the force used was UNjustified?  I don’t think anyone has made any assumptions, because we just don’t know enough, as hpierce has pointed out.  What I can say is that IF the situation was as described, where the man 1) was violent and destroying property; 2) saying he had a gun; 3) also indicating he had a hostage, it would make some sense the police would assume imminent danger and the need for use of force.  But we really don’t have any actual facts to go on, just what information the police have released to the press.  An autopsy hopefully will indicate exactly how the man died, which should give more insight into the situation.  What if it turns out this guy was high on PCP, and the situation was as described?  What should the police have done in your mind?

  12. Tia Will

    Robin W

    These days, it seems that the concept of public service and protecting the people is foreign to the police everywhere, but especially in small towns, and that the number #1 concern of the police is protecting the police. So why do have them?”

    I will only address the last question, ” So why do we have them”.

    What we tend to see our what to our eyes appear to be the “failures” of the police. What makes headlines and attention grabbing blogging material are the incidents such as Ket Mo Ree and this unfortunate death. What does not make headlines are the incidents that are handled completely uneventfully and successfully and which prevent tragedies from occurring.  I would be willing to bet ( although I have no supportive facts) that these events far outnumber the more spectacular tragedies.

    This is part of the reason that I have repeatedly suggested considering the bigger picture, and the possibility of primary prevention rather than limiting our police to response while an incident is in progress or after the fact to “catch the bad guys”. Where I believe that our police can be most helpful is in preventing the terrible outcome in the first place by proactive policing…..knowing a particular area, who owns the businesses, who frequents these locations, who is likely to be there only for “fun” and who is likely to stir up trouble. For me this would have the effect of keeping not only the police, but also the citizens safer. While it obviously will not prevent all tragedies, I believe that it would have a protective overall effect.

     

    1. Anon

      I agree that prevention is the best solution – but I have to wonder in the incident described above, how the police could have prevented this person from going berserk? On the other hand, I think the murder at KetMoRee could have possibly been prevented (no guarantee) if the clubs had followed better safety procedures.

  13. Robin W.

    You may be right, Tia, that they could be more proactive. But right now police across the country (but especially in smaller cities) are neither proactive, as you describe, nor responsive in a crisis in an appropriate way. I remember counting on the police as a kid. Not these days.

  14. Tia Will

    Anon

    how the police could have prevented this person from going berserk?”

    I do not believe that there is anyway that police can prevent a person from “going berserk”. What I wonder, but which we will not know without much more information is whether or not some form of secondary prevention ( less use of physical force) could have enabled the police to contain the destruction to the hotel room while allowing the individual to wind down either mentally or physically to the point where he could have been apprehended with less force. Please note that this is just a question, not an accusation.

    1. Biddlin

      What I wonder is whether anything could have saved the suspect/victim’s life, after the first 911 call.  I rather doubt it. I think we’ll eventually learn, through blood chemistry perhaps, that the poor guy sealed his own fate and the the police and motel staff were left to deal with his mess. While I think police almost always exacerbate violence, rather than minimize it, in this instance, they were “just doin’ their jobs.” It also seems reasonable to assume that they were protecting the public by ending the standoff when they did. They may well wish that they could have waited for the guy to stroke out in the room. This one falls under ‘Stuff Happens.”

      ;>)/

  15. Robin W.

    I’m not expecting the police to have a magic wand they can wave to “prevent someone from going berserk.”  I would like to see them not exacerbate a situation by acting like storm troopers.  I would especially like to see them get mental health services personnel to take a stab at talking the person down before the police break down the door and six of them storm into the room with the express goal of controlling/containing him (or before they use any weapons or their fists or body weight — but we don’t know yet what was used in this case).

    I am not suggesting that force should never be used. It should be the last option after alternative approaches are tried, and it should only be used if genuinely necessary to protect another civilian, to protect the suspect himself or to protect the police from serious bodily injury, in which case the amount of force that should be used is the minimum genuinelynecessary to protect the people at risk. The primary goal should be the protection of the people the police are hired to protect, including the victim in this case.

    I would not be so livid about this except that (1) this is the second instance in half a year of the police prioritizing their safety as more important than the safety of the people they are hired to protect, and (2) there have been a number of instances in our local area of mentally ill people killed in exchanges with the police, including during welfare checks requested by the victim’s relatives. There is clearly inadequate training and practice regarding what the police should do in mental health situations. This has to change.

    1. Anon

      Whoa, back the truck up.  Remember, according to the police this guy said he had a gun and a hostage.  The police were not necessarily acting on behalf of their own safety but for the safety of an unknown hostage.  It is possible this guy might have even been trying to commit “suicide by cop”.  We just don’t have enough information to be able to assess this situation.

      1. Davis Progressive

        doesn’t seem like a suicide by cop scenario.  it’s likely he wasn’t cognizant enough to be aware that his actions were dectected.  if he wanted suicide by cop, he probably would have picked a more public place.  if the police’s account was correct, he probably died either from a heart attack or asphyxiation.  either way, not the typical suicide by cop scenario.

        there are concerning aspects to this incident.  first, the police are probably not the best responders here if it’s a mental health crisis, so why wasn’t the counselor funded through the county program there?  second, the police have a stated policy of not making dynamic entries – even in situations with guns – remember they waited hours in the murder-suicide – so why the quick entry here?

        1. hpierce

          “…so why wasn’t the counselor funded through the county program there?”

          Uh, look at the “timestamp” of the call… also how many incidents, county-wide might have been ‘going down’?  If I was the ‘counselor funded thru the Co program’ , I’d have to be compensated VERY highly to be available 24/7/365.  Maybe 200% of current salary.

  16. TrueBlueDevil

    “In the backdrop of #blacklivematter, I think important questions about police tactics and use of force have been deleted from the national discussion.”

    But reasonable debate isn’t what the hired political mercenaries of George Soros want. They seek naked political power, deference, subjugation, guilt.

    When a 300-pound young man tossed around an immigrant shop keeper (aggravated assault?), and then attempts to kill an officer, it may be an issue of race, but not the race discussion this crowd could ever comprehend.

    BTW, the vast majority of Americans believes that AllLivesMatter, showing that the BlackLivesMatter crowd is out of step.

    1. Davis Progressive

      i find it interesting that you quote his comment about important questions about police tactics, you ignore the important questions about police tactics and go straight into george soros conspiracy theories and 300 pound assailants rather than talking about police tactics.  so which is it that you want to talk about again?

    2. hpierce

      We definitely think differently, TBD… perhaps at a basal level… I think “alllivesmatter”, is not a repudiation of “blacklivesmatter”, but rather an affirmation and logical extension.  But what do I know… am not a liberal arts major.

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